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Arthur Koestler (1905 - 1983)

  Koestler's Darkness At Noon (1940) belongs in the pantheon of books that includes 1984, Devils, The Brothers Karamazov, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, and The Wanting Seed.  It's a poetic indictment against "reformative" mass movements, inspired by Koestler's first-hand disillusionment with Communism.  He renounced his membership in the German Communist Party in 1938.  The book's accuracy about prison derives from his imprisonment in Franconite Spain.  His real-life jail experience and disillusionment mirrors Dostoyevsky, his main model.  (Darkness strongly resembles Dostoyevsky's Devils, as well as Orwell's 1984.)  The book's protagonist says to one of his captors: "A mathematician once said that algebra was the science for lazy people - one does not work out x, but operates with it as if one knew it.  In our case x stands for the anonymous masses,  the people.  Politics mean operating with this x without worrying about its actual nature."  (This rejection of man as mathematically solvable can be attributed to Dostoyevsky, too.)  Strangely, tortured by Parkinson's Disease and leukemia, Koestler and his devoted third wife, Cynthia, committed dual suicide in 1983.



George Orwell on Arthur Koestler


(great authors main page)



List of Works


The Gladiators


Darkness At Noon


The Scum of the Earth


The God That Failed


The Invisible Writing


The Lotus and the Robot


Hanged By the Neck


The Ghost in the Machine


The Roots of Coincidence


The Challenge of Change


Bricks To Babel





(not a complete list)




Space-ships and time machines are no escape from the human condition. Let Othello subject Desdemona to a lie-detector test; his jealousy will still blind him to the evidence. Let Oedipus triumph over gravity; he won't triumph over his fate. 





When a person identifies himself with a group his critical faculties are diminished and his passions enhanced by a kind of emotive resonance. The individual is not a killer, the group is, and by identifying with it, the individual becomes one. This is the infernal dialect reflected in man's history.






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